A devotional by Rev. John Odom, Presbyter for Community Life, Mid-KY Presbytery

One of my favorite biblical stories is the story of Mary's visit with Elizabeth. It's even one of the reasons that my daughter is named Elizabeth.  Remember the plot. It's quite simple. Mary - fresh from her encounter with the Angel Gabriel - shows up unexpectedly on Elizabeth's doorstep. At the women's meeting, John the baptizer leaps in Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognizes that Mary is pregnant and rightly proclaims that Mary's baby is the Lord. Elizabeth joins the long line of prophets who discern the new thing that God is accomplishing in the midst of God's people. Elizabeth cries out, rejoices and celebrates this wonderful work of God.

In the hurry to place the focus of scripture squarely on Jesus, Christians often rush past Elizabeth and her prophetic utterance. But Elizabeth's voice is the one that reminds the church universal, judicatory leaders, and indeed all who recognize the presence of Christ in their midst that in order to be faithful, you and I must always be open to the new life, the new thing, that God is calling into being and presenting unannounced on our doorsteps.

  • What new thing - or what new birth - is God causing to grow in your life, in the world, and in the congregations you lead or are connected to? Can you sense this new thing? Can you name it and share it with others?
  • And, are you grateful for God's commitment to new life? Do you join with Elizabeth in joyous embrace of the disruptive power of the Christ who comes?
  • How might our faith, our call, our leadership be enhanced with a little more attention to the Elizabeth in all of us?

I pray that scripture's witness and Elizabeth's voice might be embodied in our lives of faith, and that we, too, might find the presence of Christ in the midst of those who present themselves unannounced at our doors.